The legal and emotional elements of a divorce can be complicated. Even when both parties agree divorce is the right decision, there are always difficulties to work through. Perhaps most challenging of all is helping young children through the split of their parents.
No words or actions can protect a child from being impacted by a divorce. Yet there are ways parents can ease their fears and confusion. The following six tips can help children through this family transition. Extra care should be given to minor children, but the advice is intended for children of all ages, whether they are 13 or 31.
Tell Your Children About the Divorce Together
By telling children about the divorce together, parents show their united love and support for their children. Both spouses should emphasize that the divorce does not affect how much they love the children. Rehearsing together how to tell the children is helpful. Children can feel more reassured when their parents are on the same page.
Not only should parents sit down with their children at the same time, but there should also be every effort to tell all children at the same time. School and extracurricular activities often send family members in divergent directions. Finding a time to tell the entire family at once will give the children a better foundation to support each other.
Don’t Overshare Details of the Divorce
Some divorces are ugly. Infidelity, criminal activity, or drug and alcohol abuse may be at the heart of why the parents split. Parents should not share all the gory details with their children. A parent may think that sharing these details can help “explain” the reasons for the divorce. Depending on the child’s age and maturity, a parent can share higher-level information. No child, though, needs to know every dirty detail as it can be upsetting and serve no positive purpose.
Don’t Badmouth the Other Parent
Everyone needs to vent on occasion. That’s particularly true for divorcing couples. Children should not be on the receiving end of a couple’s frustrations or the anger of one spouse toward the other. Except in situations where a child would be unsafe, children benefit from having a good relationship with both parents. They should not be told that one parent is the enemy.
Children are not therapists, and should they feel like they need to solve marital problems. They are not a shoulder to cry on. A licensed psychiatrist or psychologist is a more appropriate person to listen to fears and concerns.
Put Children’s Lives First
A divorce will change a child’s life but keeping as much routine as possible is important. Stability and consistency will be particularly comforting to children during this time when so much is changing. Children should continue to participate in the same activities as before and spend time with friends. From sports to dance class and Friday sleepovers, make every effort to keep things consistent in their lives.
Don’t Compensate with Money & Gifts
When parents decide to split, feelings of guilt are common when kids are involved. They realize they are forever changing the lives of their children. Resist the urge to assuage that guilt by lavishing gifts and money on the children. Doing so can impart the message that problems are solved with money and things.
Gifts can also seem coercive, like one parent is attempting to get a child to side with them on some issue. Instead, focus on spending quality time with your children.
Encourage Communication with Your Child
Create an environment where children understand their feelings are important. They may have their own anger, frustrations, and hurt. Encourage an ongoing dialogue and check in with them regularly. Listen to what they have to say without immediately wanting to “fix” the problem. Validate and empathize with their emotions.
A roller coaster of feelings is not unusual for children to experience. Grades can suffer and their behaviors and attitudes can change. Watch for any significant shifts that might demonstrate the need for a professional counselor.
Extra Tip: Take Care of Yourself
Putting your children first does not mean you should not take care of yourself. If you are not dealing with your own issues around the divorce, you will be less equipped to support your children through the process. Find positive ways to release stress such as yoga, meditation, and massage. Spend time with friends. Plan for your life post-divorce. Talk to a neutral third party, like a therapist, when needed. In addition to the personal benefits, your children will learn from the example you set. They, too, will see the value in self-care.
Experienced Strategy for Your Katy Divorce
A divorce agreement can seem focused on details like asset division, child custody, child support, and alimony. At The Springer Law Firm, we never forget that each of these details affects people. Our 85 years of combined experience have shown us that managing the emotions of divorce are equally important. With our team, you will have legal counsel that offers strategic advice and fierce representation. We also listen to our clients with support and understanding.
Our compassionate and insightful lawyers at The Springer Law Firm can work toward a divorce resolution that serves the best interests of your family. Contact us at (281) 990-6025 or use our online form to schedule your consultation.